Midnight Express as a Product of Hollywood Orientalism

Goksu Gigi Akkan


The concept of Orientalism has been a forthcoming issue in film studies, be it the (mis)representation of minority groups in Hollywood, or white-washing people of color characters in remakes of films from “the Orient”, or through a complete omission of representation of these characters. Ideology is a great aspect in shaping the views of the masses, and as they become more embedded in cultural devices such as films, the more soft power they deploy and the more problematic they become. In Foucauldian terms, knowledge about the Orient is produced through films made by the Occident, and thanks to their infinite capital and wide distribution networks, the West, particularly America, is far more successful in retaining a cross-cultural dominance through this power/knowledge structure.

This paper aims to deconstruct the motives behind Oliver Stone & Alan Parker’s 1978 film Midnight Express, in terms of putting Turkey and Turkish people in the Oriental position and putting Western and White characters in the Occidental epistemological positions. Some questions this paper tackles include “How does Orientalism work in the context of Film Studies? Does the Gaze grant a monolithic and unidirectional look at the Orient instead of the Occident?”

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/csm.v1n1p20


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